A COBOL Programmer’s Unique Story

All of my friends who have younger siblings who are going to college or high school – my number one piece of advice is: You should learn how to program.” This is a famous quote by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

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Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
The Discovery

I wish I would have had that advice presented to me when I finished high school. In the end, I did learn how to program, but my journey was very roundabout. I spent many years in University, getting a 3-year Psychology Degree and a 4-year Commerce Degree. With all that education behind me, I was still having trouble finding direction. As a result, I read an amazing, self-help book for job seekers called What Color is your Parachute? Surprisingly, the exercises in the book pointed me toward a career in programming, mostly based on my interest in the one programming course I had taken at University.

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The Becoming

Given a new path toward programming, I decided to go the quickest route and get a programming Diploma. I used my University courses to get exemptions in the non-programming courses and finished a two-year Computer Programmer Diploma in a year. I loved it. Luckily, I was able to get a job as an entry-level COBOL programmer shortly after I graduated, which has led to a rewarding 25-year career as a Programmer-Analyst and IT Specialist.

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Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime
The Next Step

The natural continuation of this lifelong journey is to write about it. To answer some questions that can only come from experience. What is it like to be a woman in technology? What has it been like to work with newer technologies at the same time as older ones? What is it like to be in the computer field with multiple generations of people?  There is so much to write about–so many topics to explore, drawing on my many years of experience. All the facets of the past have come together to create my story, which is, I hope, unique enough to share.

What’s your story? Where are you on your own journey? Are you still becoming, or are you considering your next step?

Author: Donna Jennings

I have a BA and a BComm, as well as a Diploma in Programming. I have been a COBOL system designer and coder for over 20 years, and I am still trying to demystify the language for myself...I Love the culture of COBOL and how it has provided so many people, including myself, with a lifelong livelihood. The opinions in my posts are completely my own, based on my many years of experience working in a COBOL development environment.

One thought on “A COBOL Programmer’s Unique Story”

  1. In 2020, COBOL entered its 61 year of successful usage. For any technology to have survived and been successful for six decades is nothing short of phenomenal, says Britton. The reason COBOL has stood the test of time was investigated in a survey conducted by Micro Focus and Vanson Bourne earlier this year. “The survey aimed to uncover the story behind COBOL, as well as what it’s being used for in organisations around the world, and some interesting points came to the fore from the South African region. The intention was to explore investments that organisations had made in COBOL systems as well as how current, topical and strategic those systems remained today. In South Africa alone, a staggering 100% of respondents viewed COBOL applications as strategic to their organisation, compared to 92% globally. ”

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